Olympus' new FE cameras—FE-280 ($200), FE-290 ($250) and FE-300 ($300)—are built to be "fun" and "easy," with a smile-recognition program, a way to fix bad images on the fly, and other cool tricks, plus a 12-megapixel version for $300.
The FE-280 and FE-300 are essentially the same camera with 2.5" LCDs and 3x optical zoom lenses. The difference is, one registers 8 megapixels while the other carries a whopping 12 (and for $300!). They both have face detection, digital image stabilization, and something called "perfect shot preview," which simultaneously previews different exposures, white balances and metering so you can choose (and learn). They also have the Perfect Fix, which tweaks blurred, red-eye infested or poorly lit images after you take them.
One of their shooting modes is called "Smile Shot" and while I don't have the details, I am told that it is a facial recognition technology that automatically takes the picture, yes, once you are smiling. That just makes me smile.
The FE-280 is available in red, blue, black and silver, as shown above, while the FE-300, below, comes only in silver.
The FE-280 is a 7-megapixel camera with a 4x wide-angle optical zoom, for getting more when you're close in. It's also got a larger 3" LCD, and comes in black or silver. In exchange for the upped specs, it loses the wackier FE features, like Smile Shot and the Perfect Fix.
NEW OLYMPUS FE-SERIES CAMERAS COMBINE EASY OPERATION WITH ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES Three New Digital Compact Cameras Offer Choice of 12.0-Megapixel Image Sensor, 4x Wide-Angle Lens and Face Detection Technology for Crisp, Clear Images
CENTER VALLEY, Pa., August 23, 2007 - Olympus has taken the FE-Series to a new level of performance and ease of use. From the most powerful image sensor to the largest LCD screen and the newest technological innovations, the FE-300, FE-290 and FE-280 offer something for everyone. Common to all three cameras is their ultra-slim design, affordable price and intuitive features, which enable anyone to capture all of life's moments in brilliant detail.
Each easy and fun camera also offers its own unique features including:
FE-300: The slimmest compact camera to provide a 12-megapixel image sensor for producing large-format prints with incredible detail and Face Detection Technology for capturing sharp, brilliant portrait pictures;
FE-290: A 4x zoom for getting closer to a subject, a 28mm wide-angle lens for taking beautiful panoramic shots and an impressive 3-inch LCD for composing and displaying captured images; and
FE-280: A super-slim body available in four trendy colors (red, blue, black and silver) with Face Detection Technology, which tracks faces within the frame and automatically focuses and optimizes exposure for sharp, brilliant portrait pictures.
"We've added even more features and performance to the ultra-slim FE-Series without adding complexity," said Jennifer Schmell, product manager, Olympus Imaging America Inc. "Whatever your need, from large-format printing to increased zoom, there's an FE camera for you."
Powerful Image Sensor
The FE-300 features a powerful 12.0-megapixel image sensor, which allows photographers to make large-format prints and crop photographs dramatically while maintaining image quality. Producing impressive 16-inch by 20-inch prints of dramatic landscapes, portraits or flowers will be a snap with this high-resolution (1/1.72") image sensor.
High-Resolution LCD Screens
The FE-290 features an extra large 3-inch LCD screen, and the FE-280 and FE-300 feature large 2.5-inch LCD screens. Composing shots and sharing images with friends and family is easier than ever thanks to the FE-Series large, high-resolution LCD screens. Additionally, the backlight boost button increases the LCD from bright to a super-bright setting, making it easier to capture and view images in challenging environments such as direct sunlight or low-light situations.
Face Detection Technology
Face Detection Technology tracks faces within the frame and automatically focuses (Face Detection AF) and optimizes exposure (Face Detection AE) for sharp, brilliant portrait pictures. Even if your subjects are moving, the camera continuously tracks your subjects' faces without having to press the shutter button.
Expanded Control and Easy Operation
In some situations, consumers may want more creative control when composing images. The three new FE cameras offer Program Auto Mode. Located on the cameras' mode dial, this option enables consumers to easily adjust ISO and white balance. Additionally, the new FE-Series cameras feature in-camera Help Guides, making digital photography simple and fun for users of all ages and skill levels. A tutorial "shooting guide" educates users on tips for achieving specific effects, such as "shooting into backlight" and brightening subjects. The shooting guide not only provides detailed descriptions for various situations and environments, but also sets the camera with the touch of a button, making the transition from learning to taking great pictures instantaneous.
Perfect Shot Preview
The FE-300 and FE-280 feature a Perfect Shot Preview mode, which enables users to preview and select various photographic effects on a live, multi-frame window on the LCD before snapping the shot. This feature allows users to see precisely what the image will look like when adjustments are made, ensuring users are capturing the exact image they want. It's a great way for novice users to learn about the effects of different photography techniques, such as exposure compensation, white balance and metering.
Digital Image Stabilization Mode and Edit
The new FE cameras offer Digital Image Stabilization (DIS) for capturing crisp, clear pictures. DIS freezes the action with high ISO sensitivity and fast shutter speeds that prevent blurry images often caused by a moving subject. The FE-280 and FE-300 also feature Digital Image Stabilization Edit, which uses a built-in gyro sensor to track camera movement and enables users to fix blurry images right in the camera. The FE-280 and FE-300 also feature high ISO sensitivity, which extends the flash working range, enabling users to capture clear, bright subjects and backgrounds in low-light situations.
Life does not always go as planned, so the FE-280 and FE-300 feature Perfect Fix, which allows users to modify pictures after they take them. Perfect Fix sharpens unanticipated blur, improves lighting and eliminates red-eye.
TruePicTM III Image Processor
The FE-280 and FE-300 feature Olympus' exclusive new TruePic III image processor, which was developed for the demanding performance of professional Digital SLR (single lens reflex) cameras. Olympus' enhanced TruePic III Image Processor produces crystal-clear photos using all the pixel information for each image to deliver superior picture quality with more accurate colors, true-to-life flesh tones and faster processing speeds. TruePic III also captures crisp, clear images at high ISO settings, which are traditionally associated with increasing image noise or producing grainy photos.
Bright Capture Technology for Easy Low-Light Photography
The FE-280 and FE-300 include Bright Capture Technology, enabling consumers to preview and shoot images and movies in low light using specific scene modes. It is perfect for situations when a flash is not appropriate to capture the softness and warmth of a candlelit dinner or natural skin tones in subdued lighting.
PreSet Shooting Modes Make It Easy to Capture Great Images
The inclusion of preset shooting modes, accessed via a rotating dial and menu button on the back of the cameras, makes it easy to capture great images in a variety of lighting situations, such as Sports, Fireworks and Night Scene with Portrait. All three cameras offer VGA-quality video and sound, which enable users to create short movies that can be emailed to family and friends. The FE-290 offers 17 shooting modes, while the FE-300 offers 18, and the FE-280 offers 21, including three underwater scene modes.
OLYMPUS Master™ 2 Software
OLYMPUS Master 2 Software provides the ultimate in digital imaging management. An intuitive user interface makes downloading to your computer quick and simple, and images are easily organized by folders or albums and searchable by date in Calendar view. And with one-click editing tools, such as red-eye removal, images can be touched up before printing or emailing. Online support, templates, firmware upgrades and other user services are just a mouse-click away. Use the optional muvee™ Theater Pack to create professional quality slide shows and DVDs from your pictures using any of several built-in templates.
Olympus Premium Cases and Silicone Skin
Olympus also offers premium cases in various colors, including camel and red leather, and a sporty neoprene case perfect for active or outdoor situations. Silicone skins that protect the camera from scratches are also available in colors for the FE-280. Additionally, the PT-038 underwater housing can be used with the FE-280, enabling even the most novice photographer to take beautiful underwater images.
The FE-280, FE-290 and FE-300 will be available in August 2007. Each will include a LI-42B Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery and Charger, USB Cable, Audio/Video Cable, Wrist Strap, Manual, CD-ROM with OLYMPUS Master™ 2 Software and Warranty Card.
FE-280 Estimated Street Price: $199.99 (U.S.)
FE-290 Estimated Street Price: $249.99 (U.S.)
FE-300 Estimated Street Price: $299.99 (U.S.)